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Imran Khan's party to restore jihadi content in Pak textbooks

Author: Press Trust of India
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September 3, 2013
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/imran-khans-party-to-restore-jihadi-content-in-pak-textbooks/1163665/0

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's party is set to restore "violent jihadist content" removed from school textbooks in Pakistan's militancy-racked Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, according to a media report Tuesday.

After the secular-leaning Awami National Party (ANP) came to power in the province in 2008, education officials removed Quranic verses preaching jihad or holy war and illustrations depicting weapons or violence.

Chapters covering Islamist figures and ideology were replaced with lessons on local poets, philosophers or the region's Pashtun identity. These drastic changes were introduced by the ANP in textbooks used from the first to 12th grade in public schools.

However, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, which now rules Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami, has announced its intention to "restore violent jihadist content in school textbooks", Radio Free Europe reported on its website Tuesday.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's Information Minister Shah Farman told a news conference on August 21 that the government will "rectify" what it calls "holes and mistakes" in textbooks published by the previous government led by the ANP.

"What kind of sovereignty, freedom, and Islamic values is this when Islamic teachings, jihad, and national heroes are removed from textbooks. Jihad is part of our faith. We will not back down (from our decision)," he said.

The provincial government has not said when the changes will be implemented but they were not in time for the new school year that began on September 1.

Farman identified what he described as "inaccuracies" in the textbooks. One was the description of Jammu and Kashmir as a "disputed" area. Pakistan claims the whole of the region.

Khan's party's decision has dismayed schoolteachers and educators who see education as the best tool to counter jihadist propaganda disseminated by militant groups. Critics of the move say it threatens to radicalise the province's youth.

For decades, textbooks used across Pakistan have "preached falsehoods, hatred, and religious intolerance, helping foster the sectarian violence and militancy that plagues the country Tuesday", the report said.

Fazal Rahim Marwat, a former chairman of the Textbook Board of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that is responsible for editing and publishing textbooks, said the new government's decision will help spread religious fanaticism and poison the minds of students.
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